Prayers, Pinson Mounds, and a Pipe-Smoking Englishman
“Let the field exult, and all that is in it. Then all the trees of the forest will sing for joy.” – Psalm 96:12
Throughout my Christian pilgrimage, I have found that one of the most refreshing and exhilarating things to do is to hike in the woods and find a quiet place of solitude and spend time with God in prayer and Bible study. Sometimes I have taken books written by great men of the faith. I suppose that through the years, my feet and knees have become quite accustomed to the fertile West Tennessee soil located in the boundaries of our state parks and recreational areas. From Natchez Trace, to Chickasaw; from Big Hill Pond to Pinson Mounds; from Herb Parsons to Shelby Farms; these protected landmarks have become sanctuaries for me as I have been blessed by the harmony of a choir of trees. The Lord has taught me many things in those seasons of retreat, and for that, I am forever thankful. I want to take a moment and share with you a nugget of truth I unearthed a few years ago.
In the hot, late summer days of 2011, I have found myself nestled in the woods of Pinson Mounds State Park, praying, meditating, reading the book of Job, and perusing though C.S. Lewis’ classic, “Mere Christianity.” It is a book that I am convinced every believer should own. Now I am aware that C.S. Lewis had his share of theological flaws, some of which are very serious in nature. But this does not diminish his impact on Christianity. Lewis had much to bring to the theological round-table of the twentieth century. He had a way of motivating people to see spiritual matters from a fresh perspective, a perspective that challenged his audience to think outside the box and engage their sense of creativity and imagination. I would like to share with you a truth about the Christian life that God has taught me through the writings of this pipe smoking Englishmen.
C.S. Lewis explains that sometimes in the Christian life, the best move forward is to go backwards. This might go against the grain of everything you have learned about the life journey of a believer, and your call to press on in the Christian faith. But what if we have taken an unfortunate detour spiritually and have gotten off track? Would it not be a step in the right direction to step backwards and see where we got off course? Let me present this thought another way; suppose you were traveling on an unfamiliar road and made a wrong turn. Would not the action of turning around be a move in the right direction? In that situation, the only way that you could move forward towards your desired destination would be to go backwards, and get back to where you initially veered off path. Once your retraced your steps you would then be able to get back on the right road. The lesson for us here is that many Christians have lost their sense of direction in the woods of the world. They have gotten turned around, and the best thing for them to do is simply turn around. Oh that we would all heed this great truth! Stepping backwards just might be the move you need to make spiritually. Sometimes you simply need to step backwards and get back to the basics of life, and get back to the elementary principles of the Christian faith. Then, and only then, you will be able to see clearly on the right path to take.
This truth has become very real to me. There have been literal times while hiking in the woods that I have taken the wrong trail and have become turned around. But once I was made aware of my condition, I turned around so I could get back to where I was headed. And, in my own Christian pilgrimage, there have been moments when the woods of the world disoriented me from the course God had mapped out for me.
I pray this thought from a jolly old chap named Clive Staples Lewis has spoken to you as it spoke to me.
– Pastor Eric